The Filthiest People Alive!

Finally got around to seeing Precious.
After weighing mainstream reviews against a handful of contrarieties and spoilers, I thought I knew just what to expect, but my preconceptions were dashed
about ten minutes in when I picked up on what no critic of any cultural
or political stripe seems to have noticed. The film is camp. A fro-hair shy
of John-Waters-in-blackface.

I'm not saying the highminded
and bleedy-hearted are wrong to see in the Oprah-endorsed urban picaresque a kind of inspiring underdog
story. As the top critics emphasize, Precious has heart. But so did Pink Flamingos.
Nor do I mean to suggest that HBD-savvy curmudgeons are being overly
cynical to interpret the film as an incest-obsessed paean to the
custodial state — that would be roundly condemned as racist had it
been scripted and produced by whitefolk. There's something to both
counterpoints, I am certain. But available though it is, this
reading  seems more tuned to SWPL moodswings than to the content of the
reel, which you really have to see for yourself — preferably after
some time has passed, and preferably when you're stoned. The over-the-top schlock
giveaways aren't hard to spot; conspicuous clues and cues are on display in several stylized fantasy sequences, one where the titular heroine of limited
horizons peacocks before flashing paparazzi in full-on dragshow glitz
and pomp (a'la Divine in I forget which one). But the most telling
evidence is to be found in the story itself, about which you've already been gratuitously informed. You can play the game of  breaking it down; try to re-imagine a few infant-hurling gags played out with melanin-deficient trailertrash mutants standing in. Or you can stop at
the detail that gives the game away — when it's revealed this that a po
woe-begotten duckling, raised by wolves and saved by lambs, is
baby-mamma to a daddy-sired tard-child named … Mongo. I shit you not and I rest my case. Lee Daniels knows just what he got away with. Surely an off-broadway musical is in the cards, and I'll
be cheering for Gabby and Mo'Nique during my next fabulous Oscar party.

I've got my mind on the movies and the movies on my mind. Still annotating my list. 

Memento mori.

4 thoughts on “The Filthiest People Alive!

  1. Agreed. The problem is that Waters was channeling Douglas Sirk with the glamour upended into shabbiness, and while doing that injecting a metric shit ton of funny. Precious is both shabby and militantly humorless. Everything was in place as it would be in a Waters flick, but with the inherent racial/sexual/class/fatty tension created by the subject matter vs. the demographics of the audience that watched the movie, no one could really be allowed to laugh at a retarded kid named Mongo. It’s so clear that you couldn’t laugh that if you had, in the theater, laughed like this was a Waters flick (which I did at home), police or at the least theater security could have been called.
    I think this was done intentionally, and is an underhanded trick to put the flick into the class of “Oscar contenders.” Nobody will remember this movie in five years, but they would have if at some point in the movie, either Precious or Precious’ mother had cooked and eaten Mongo in a twisted bid for revenge.

  2. I agree and I haven’t even seen Precious. Lee Daniels’ performance at the Independent Spirits Awards ( or whatever it’s called) was a real giveaway.

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